We have recently started listening to The Dave Change Show podcast while driving to visit my mother-in-law. In one of his recent shows, he interviewed Rene Redzepi, Chef and Owner of Noma, and talked to him about his new book, “The Noma Guide to Fermentation”. A few days later, the book showed up on our doorstep.
Since I am a microbiologist by education, I found the book to be quite interesting. Microbiology from the viewpoint of a Chef…. Something I had really never considered seriously. During my first read of the book, I found it quite fascinating. As a microbiologist I would have explained things differently, but all of the concepts are accurate.
As a child, I would watch my grandmother make pickles from cucumbers or peaches, but I never considered that she was using fermentation and microbiology. Until I read the book, I wasn’t aware that household fermentation was such a big thing! There is a whole world out there just waiting to be fermented!
At Noma, they do their lactic acid fermentation in vacuum sealed bags. You can see the gas that was generated in this ferment of some fresh tomatoes.
I also started som sauerkraut, fermented pico de gallo, blueberries and jalapeños using the jar method with waterless fermentation locks. When using this method, you have to be sure to keep your ferment covered with liquid.
I’ve only tried up to the lactic acid ferment in the book and you might say I’m hooked. The most interesting thing for me is that at Noma, the ferment is the creation of a new flavor as much as it is the creation of an end product.
I’m really interested in exploring what kind of flavors I can create and how I can use them.
I do get a little frustrated with the “natural” approach. As a microbiologist, I want to get in there and count my cultures, verify their purity, incubate at narrowly controlled temperatures and generally approach this as a science project rather than a culinary experiment. I will have to learn to be patient, but still apply my education to help guide me.
I’ll keep you posted on new adventures in this arena.